A Bustling Throwback: Hội An Old Town


A striking glimpse of the old. Or maybe time just didn’t move.

Chinese temples dot the town. The Japanese Covered Bridge looms mysteriously. Ancient houses line up rivetingly.

No road traffic. No high-rise buildings. No modern façade.

The dated heritage is apparent.

Above: Riverside Hoi An is a picture perfect 18th century port by day.

Or maybe time did move. At night, riverside, a yellowish glow sparkles.

The night lights reflecting off the water.

A warm calming tone.



Above: By night, the town glimmers.

Hội An, formerly Fai-Fo or Faifoo

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, the city was once a busy trading port, a vital hub on the East Vietnam Sea. Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Indian and Dutch seafarers and merchants once descended and congregated here, contributing to lucrative trade activity in the area. The Tây Sơn Rebellion saw nearby Da Nang rise as a more critical, influential port, which diminished Hội An’s status, leading to years of decline and disregard, which ironically led to the majestic preservation of the site.

Above: A local, donning a traditional hat, gives out an infectious laughter.

Above: The stores illuminate the walkways.

Hội An and Lanterns

Every full moon, an air of festivity fill the streets. In celebration of the full moon, the locals take to the streets to pay their respects to their ancestors. Colourful, lighted lanterns fill the streets and the Thu Bon River, soaking the town with an aura of spellbinding splendour. Given the popularity of the Hội An Lantern Festival, a display of brightly-lit multi-hued lanterns can still be found in the districts at night, even when it is not full moon.

Above: Vibrant, colourful lanterns on display.

Above: The lanterns are all over social media; they can brighten up your personal Instagram feed.

What to Do

A one-day entrance ticket that costs 120 000 VND gives you access to the Ancient Town. The entrance ticket comes with 5 coupons that grants you access to 5 attractions within the town.

Above: The streets can be flooded with water during the rainy season. Below: The district is unusually quiet.

The Assembly Hall of the Cantonese Chinese Congregation, built in the 18th century, is an impressive Chinese temple. A statue of a dragon and a carp, in the middle of the courtyard, guards the site. The Tran Ancestor Worship House, stands as a living example, of how Vietnamese and Chinese cultures and traditions can mesh. The Phung Hung Ancient House sports a vivid décor and is rich in in history. For those who love shopping, visit the Central Market, where there a lot on offer – from local produce to tailored clothing.

Above, Below: Chinese temples can be found in Hoi An.

Above: The Japanese Covered Bridge. Perhaps the symbol of the old town is this 18th century wooden Japanese bridge. It was built to connect the Chinese quarters to the town’s Japanese community.

Walk along the river banks and you are bound to be fully immersed in the laid back character of the old city. Colonial era houses line the waterfront. Locals eagerly offer boat rides and fresh fruits, unknowingly recreating the hustle of the past. Forget your worries as you unwind in a quaint café or bar. Under an ancient roof, with a nostalgic atmosphere, the experience is sure to be one to remember.

Above: A lady carries some local produce.

Above: A food store vendor awaits business. 

Above: A boat carries lighted lanterns at night. The capture is breathtaking. 

When night falls, the area is transformed into a mythical glow. There is a wistful serenity amongst the hubbub of activity of the streets.

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